Sept. 24, 2003
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The evolution of the Notre Dame women's golf program took another giant leap forward this week, when the Irish were ranked fourth in the first Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index ratings of the 2003-04 season. In addition to being the highest team ranking in the program's history, Notre Dame also is the only school in the nation to have three players listed among the top 30 in the latest Golfweek individual rankings.
The Irish have opened their season in record fashion, winning the Cougar Classic on Sept. 16 in Hanahan, S.C., with a school-record score of 889, breaking the old mark by a staggering 43 shots. All told, Notre Dame defeated six teams that qualified for NCAA regional play last year, and five squads that currently are ranked in the Top 25 of the Golfweek poll. The Irish followed up that performance with a sixth-place finish at the Mary Fossum Invitational last weekend in East Lansing, Mich., at the Forest Akers West Golf Course. That tourney was won by the host school, Michigan State, which sits atop the latest Golfweek poll.
Individually, three Irish players topped the 10-year-old school record for 54 holes at the Cougar Classic, led by freshman Noriko Nakazaki (Hanover Park, Ill./Hoffman Estates HS), who fired a 217 to place second overall. She also carded the best single round in school history (69) on the first 18 holes of her collegiate career. Last weekend at Michigan State, Nakazaki took home third-place honors with a three-round score of 225, just three shots back of the leaders. Nakazaki currently is ranked fifth in the nation and tops among all NCAA freshmen.
Senior co-captain Shannon Byrne (Arlington Heights, Ill./Buffalo Grove HS) and sophomore Katie Brophy (Spokane, Wash./Gonzaga Prep) are tied for 29th in the nation after posting matching scores of 223 and seventh-place finishes at the Cougar Classic. For both players, the 54-hole scores were new career lows, and Byrne fired the best round of her career (70) on her opening 18 holes of the tournament. Brophy, the reigning BIG EAST Conference Championship co-medalist, matched her career-low round with a 73 in the second round of the Cougar Classic.
The fourth-ranked Irish are back on the links this weekend, playing host to the Notre Dame Invitational at Warren Golf Course. The 15-team tournament begins Saturday at 8 a.m. (EST) with the second round to be contested that afternoon at 1 p.m. (EST). The final 18 holes are slated for Sunday beginning at 8 a.m. (EST) - all three rounds of the event are open to the public and admission is free.